plastering 1

What You Need To Know About Lime Plastering

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Another great thing about lime plaster is how long and sturdy it lasts. The material is long-lasting and resilient, able to endure the rigours of everyday use. Lime plaster is an excellent option for commercial and residential buildings due to its low maintenance requirements and ease of repair.

    Despite the widespread use of gypsum-based and cement plasters as alternatives, lime plaster remains popular for interior wall finishes. Its numerous advantages have kept it in use for thousands of years.

    Numerous methods exist for plastering walls, and various plasters, including lime plaster, are at one's disposal. 

    Whether you're considering using lime plaster for your walls or already have it installed, you'll find all the information you need here. We cover everything from how it compares to current plaster mixes to how to paint over it.  

    What Is Lime Plaster?

    When priming interior walls and ceilings for painting, a traditional mortar known as lime plaster is often utilised. Evidence of its usage in northern Jordan dates back 140 centuries.

    The basic ingredients are lime, sand, and water; fibres like animal hair are occasionally added to the mixture for increased strength and a good binding with the substructure.  

    Plaster lime is made by burning limestone, chalk, or seashells containing calcium carbonate to create quicklime. 

    There Are Two Main Types Of Lime:

    Non-Hydraulic Lime

    Slaking quicklime produces non-hydraulic lime, which has several names: air lime, lime putty, slaked lime, fat lime, and high calcium lime. Slaked lime, or hydrated lime, is produced by combining quicklime with water. A rock-like substance is formed when the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide sets non-hydraulic lime. Carbonation describes this procedure.

    The lime putty, created by slaking, typically takes one to three months to fully mature. After that, you can mix it with sand or other aggregates to create lime renders, plasters, or mortars. Breathability, flexibility, and compatibility with older and newer eco-builds are some benefits of using non-hydraulic lime. Compared to materials made of cement, it is less likely to crack and is better for the environment.

    On the other hand, the setting and full strength of non-hydraulic lime are delayed. Since it must dry slowly, extra work is required during the aftercare period. In certain cases, this can cause labour expenses to be greater than those associated with hydraulic lime plasters. Before deciding to use non-hydraulic lime, you must carefully evaluate your project's needs to determine if the longer setting time and potential higher labour expenses are worthwhile.

    Hydraulic Lime

    Limestone with silica, clay, or other mineral impurities is the raw material for hydraulic lime. These contaminants become active when subjected to high temperatures in a kiln. Hydrolysis is the result of their reaction with water. This one is faster and harder than limes that do not use hydraulics. 'Feeble' NHL 2, 'moderate' NHL 3.5, and 'eminent' NHL 5 are the available strengths of hydraulic lime. Larger values indicate a tougher set, and the figures provide a general idea of compressive strength. It is important to remember that plaster and mortar's air permeability and flexibility decrease as their strength increases.

    A chemical reaction causes hydraulic lime to set when mixed with water. It is more suited for outdoor uses subjected to weathering conditions, has shorter setting periods, and is highly durable. When mixed with regular lime, hydraulic lime renders lime and lime mortar more resistant to water and longer lasting.

    Non-hydraulic lime is more pliable and allows more air circulation than hydraulic lime. In the case of older buildings, when compatibility with the original materials may hold greater importance, the extra strength might only be required for some projects. Always use a non-hydraulic lime in these situations.

    Is Lime Plaster Necessary?

    Although modern gypsum-based plasters have mostly replaced lime plaster, its numerous advantages are being recognised by an increasing number of renovators, owners of old residences, and even those building new homes.

    Then why is lime plaster used?

    Dampness Is Prevented

    Whereas denser cement or renders and plasters made of polymers do not allow air to enter, lime plaster does. This ensures that any condensation may be quickly dissipated, eliminating any moisture concerns. The adoption of contemporary, impermeable materials is a major contributor to the problem of dampness in older properties.

    Choosing It Is Kind To The Environment

    Lime may absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and has a lower energy production requirement than other contemporary plaster varieties. 

    Better Air Quality May Be Achieved

    Lime plaster releases the absorbed moisture when the air becomes too dry, functioning like a natural dehumidifier. 

    It Has A Very Prolonged Duration

    Lime plaster's microscopic particle size allows it to fill even the tiniest spaces with a strong adhesive. Furthermore, the formation of calcite crystals makes lime plaster stronger with time.

    It Is Flexible

    In contrast to more fragile cement-like materials, Lime is quite forgiving and will not shatter easily.

    The Beauty Is Unparalleled

    The lovely, gentle, natural sheen of lime plaster is truly one-of-a-kind; it works equally well in modern and rural settings. 

    man hand with trowel plastering wall skim coating plaster walls

    Advantages Of Lime Plaster

    Breathability And Flexibility 

    The substance lime plaster is both very malleable and porous. This makes it suitable for coating brick, stone, and wood. A long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing finish is assured by its elasticity, which allows it to tolerate movement inside the structure without cracking.

    Also, lime plaster is porous, letting water evaporate and contributing to a healthy home environment. Older structures benefit greatly from this breathable material because they need a well-balanced moisture control system to avoid damp issues.

    Longevity And Durability 

    Because of its superior resistance to wear, lime plaster lasts much longer than other materials. Lime plaster is already quite resistant to shrinking and breaking; adding fibres like hair makes it even more so.

    In addition, part of the carbon dioxide released during manufacture might be absorbed by the lime used in the plaster. Over time, allowing it to thicken and grow more resilient. Taking care of your lime plaster properly will last for decades, adding beauty and character to your home.

    Dampness And Moisture Control

    The capacity of lime plaster to regulate the amount of moisture in a building is a major benefit. Lime plaster improves indoor air quality and decreases the likelihood of mould growth due to its porous, absorbent nature.

    Also, unlike other plaster options like gypsum, clay, or cement, lime plaster does not dry up or dissolve when exposed to water. Because of its waterproofing capabilities, lime plaster is a great material for building a house since it will prolong the structure's life and keep it from shifting.


    You can do your part for the environment by plastering your walls with lime. One advantage of lime plaster over cement-based plasters is the reduced carbon emissions caused by their production. Permeability reduces energy needed to control humidity and temperature in your home, cutting heating and cooling costs and environmental effect.

    Lime plaster is a resource-conserving and eco-conscious choice that helps older buildings retain their individual history and charm.

    Thermal Insulation

    Lime plaster is filled with air through its wide pores. Because of this, the substance is an excellent thermal insulator and a pleasant alternative to the somewhat cooler cement.

    Good Workability

    When applied while wet, lime plaster possesses remarkable adhesive qualities and is quite malleable.


    The aesthetic of this plaster is highly regarded by many. You can customise the material's colour, structure, and grain size from several available finishes. 

    Lime Is A Natural Bacteria Repellant

    The substance has a natural antimicrobial property due to its alkaline nature. On top of that, it gets rid of mould effectively.

    Interesting fact: lime wash was once used to sterilise cellars.

    Ecological Benefits

    Lime, once its useful life has ended, can be recycled. Since lime can absorb carbon dioxide from the air and the material is not produced by massive plants that release tonnes of CO2 into the environment, it is also carbon neutral.

    Lastly, unlike other materials, this one does not emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

    FAQs About Plastering

    Lime plastering involves mixing lime, sand, and water to create a workable paste, which is then applied in layers onto prepared surfaces using traditional techniques such as floating and troweling.

    Lime plaster typically dries through carbonation, which can take several weeks or months, depending on environmental conditions such as humidity and temperature.

    Lime plaster requires proper preparation of substrates and adherence to specific application techniques to ensure optimal adhesion and performance. It's also important to protect lime plaster from excessive moisture during curing.

    Yes, lime plaster can be painted with breathable mineral paints or finished with decorative techniques such as lime washing, which enhances its natural aesthetic and allows the walls to "breathe."

    Lime plaster may have a higher initial cost than gypsum or cement-based plasters. Still, its long-term durability and environmental benefits often justify the investment, especially in historic preservation or sustainable building projects.

    Disadvantages Of Lime Plaster

    Set Time Is Slow And Unpredictable.

    Lime plasters don't adhere to a strict schedule. Time is of the essence throughout the hardening process. The time it takes for a plaster to cure completely varies greatly depending on the lime variety.

    Some Lime Plaster Varieties Can Cause Serious Illness

    On top of setting slowly, non-hydraulic lime is extremely caustic while wet (pH 12 or thereabouts). Workers must use extreme caution and wear protective gear to prevent chemical burns while handling the material. 

    Challenging To Work With

    Despite the material's flexibility, applying lime plaster has its challenges.

    For instance, non-hydraulic lime plaster requires constant moisture during the setting process. Actually, for a few days, it needs to be kept from drying. 

    Workers often had to exert considerable effort to maintain ideal conditions for the lime plaster.

    Lack Of Qualified Tradesmen

    Drywall and gypsum veneer plaster are popular among contractors these days. That's why it could be challenging to get a skilled expert familiar with the several varieties of lime plaster. 

    young man is puttying walls indoors guy with beard tshirt jeans is smeared with putty

    Shrinkage And Cracking 

    While curing, lime plaster has the potential to split and shrink. The longer the drying time, the more accurate this statement is for non-hydraulic lime. Plaster can shrink due to evaporation when it dries, resulting in surface fissures.

    In the first two weeks following application, spraying the surface with water regularly will usually prevent these cracks. Do it yourself or get instructions from a professional lime plasterer on keeping the plaster in good condition while it cures.

    Plaster can also crack if it contains contaminants or is inconsistently applied. Lime plaster is more fragile than gypsum plaster, but it is still important to apply it correctly to prevent cracks and chips.

    Application Difficulties

    In contrast to cement-based plasters, lime plaster can be more labour-intensive and challenging to work with. A scratch coat and more coats are usually necessary for the application process. Timed application of each layer is key to achieving the appropriate texture and look.

    Additionally, lime plaster necessitates more exact measuring and mixing to guarantee a uniform composition. If the proportions or preparation are off, it will be easier to work with, and the result might not be what you hoped for.

    High Initial Cost

    Although lime-based plaster is less environmentally harmful and produces no carbon dioxide, it may cost more upfront than cement plasters. Due to its high material and labour costs, Plaster might outstrip competing construction materials. On top of that, lime plaster might not be as suitable with paints and finishes as cement plasters.

    If you know the drawbacks of lime plaster, you will be better equipped to choose an appropriate plaster for your construction project. Lime plaster may be placed correctly, with the right kinds of lime and combinations, and thinking about the long-term benefits to help reduce the problems often connected with it.


    Lime plaster is a long-lasting and resilient material used in commercial and residential buildings due to its low maintenance requirements and ease of repair. It is made by burning limestone, chalk, or seashells containing calcium carbonate to create quicklime. There are two main types of lime: non-hydraulic lime (made by slaking quicklime) and hydraulic lime (made by limestone with silica, clay, or other mineral impurities). Non-hydraulic lime is less likely to crack and is better for the environment, but it requires more work during the aftercare period and higher labor costs.

    Lime plaster is essential for dampness prevention, environmental friendliness, better air quality, long duration, flexibility, and unique beauty. Its microscopic particle size allows it to fill even the tiniest spaces with a strong adhesive, and its porous nature allows water to evaporate, contributing to a healthy home environment. Lime plaster is also flexible, making it suitable for coating brick, stone, and wood.

    In conclusion, lime plaster is a popular choice for interior wall finishes due to its durability, low maintenance requirements, and compatibility with older and newer eco-builds. Its advantages include dampness prevention, environmental friendliness, better air quality, longevity, flexibility, and unique beauty.

    Lime plaster is a durable and eco-friendly material that offers several benefits, including long-lasting durability, dampness and moisture control, thermal insulation, good workability, aesthetics, natural bacteriophage repellent, and environmental benefits. Its porous, absorbent nature helps regulate indoor air quality and reduces the likelihood of mold growth. Lime plaster also has good workability when applied wet, making it a pleasant alternative to cooler cement.

    However, lime plaster has its drawbacks, such as slow and unpredictable set times, potential serious illness due to caustic properties, difficulty in working with, lack of qualified tradesmen, shrinkage and cracking during curing, application difficulties, and high initial costs.

    Lime plaster requires constant moisture during the setting process, which can be challenging for workers. It is also more labor-intensive and requires precise measuring and mixing to achieve a uniform composition. Additionally, lime plaster may not be as suitable with paints and finishes as cement plasters.

    To choose the right plaster for your construction project, consider the long-term benefits, proper application, and the right types of lime and combinations. By understanding these drawbacks, you can make an informed decision about the best plaster for your project, considering its long-term benefits and potential issues.

    Content Summary

    • Lime plaster is renowned for its durability and longevity, making it a sturdy option for both commercial and residential buildings.
    • Despite the popularity of gypsum-based and cement plasters, lime plaster remains a preferred choice for interior wall finishes due to its low maintenance and easy repair.
    • Lime plaster has been utilized for thousands of years, thanks to its numerous advantages over other plaster mixes.
    • Lime plaster consists of lime, sand, water, and occasionally fibres like animal hair for added strength and binding.
    • Non-hydraulic lime, also known as air lime or lime putty, is produced by slaking quicklime with water and offers benefits like breathability and compatibility with eco-builds.
    • The setting time for non-hydraulic lime is longer compared to hydraulic lime, requiring careful evaluation based on project needs.
    • Hydraulic lime, made from limestone with mineral impurities, sets faster and is more durable, making it suitable for outdoor use.
    • Lime plaster's porous nature allows for better air circulation, preventing dampness and contributing to a healthy indoor environment.
    • Lime plaster is eco-friendly, with reduced carbon emissions and energy consumption during production compared to cement-based plasters.
    • Thermal insulation is an added benefit of lime plaster due to its air-filled pores.
    • Lime plaster offers good workability when applied wet, providing remarkable adhesive qualities.
    • Customisable finishes allow for aesthetic flexibility with lime plaster, catering to various preferences.
    • Lime's natural alkaline properties make it a bacteria repellant, contributing to a healthier living space.
    • Lime can be recycled at the end of its life cycle, making it an environmentally sustainable choice.
    • Set time for lime plaster can be slow and unpredictable, requiring careful management during the hardening process.
    • Non-hydraulic lime can be extremely caustic while wet, necessitating proper safety precautions during handling.
    • The application of lime plaster can be challenging, particularly with non-hydraulic lime, which requires constant moisture during setting.
    • Qualified tradesmen familiar with lime plaster may be scarce due to the popularity of other plastering methods.
    • Shrinkage and cracking are potential issues during the curing process of lime plaster, requiring careful maintenance to prevent.
    • Lime plaster application is labor-intensive and may require multiple coats for proper coverage and texture.
    • Exact measuring and mixing are essential for achieving a uniform composition with lime plaster.
    • Lime plaster may have a higher initial cost compared to other plasters due to material and labour expenses.
    • Understanding the drawbacks of lime plaster helps in selecting the appropriate plaster for construction projects.
    • Proper placement and consideration of long-term benefits can mitigate potential issues associated with lime plaster.
    • Lime plaster's resilience makes it an excellent choice for both new construction and renovation projects.
    • Its compatibility with various building materials adds to lime plaster's versatility and appeal.
    • Lime plaster's ability to dissipate moisture helps prevent dampness issues, particularly in older buildings.
    • The natural dehumidifying effect of lime plaster contributes to better indoor air quality.
    • Lime plaster's flexibility allows it to withstand structural movement without cracking, ensuring long-lasting performance.
    • The timeless aesthetic of lime plaster complements both modern and traditional architectural styles.
    • Lime plaster's longevity reduces the need for frequent repairs and replacements, saving time and resources in the long run.
    • Its natural composition makes lime plaster a sustainable choice for environmentally conscious builders.
    • Lime plaster's thermal properties contribute to energy efficiency in buildings, reducing heating and cooling costs.
    • Skilled craftsmanship is essential for achieving a smooth and durable finish with lime plaster.
    • Proper maintenance of lime plaster ensures its continued performance and aesthetic appeal over time.
    • The unique character of lime plaster adds charm and personality to interior spaces.
    • Lime plaster's porous structure allows walls to breathe, preventing moisture buildup and associated problems.
    • Lime plaster's compatibility with various finishes and paints offers design flexibility for interior decor.
    • Lime plaster's resistance to wear and tear makes it ideal for high-traffic areas in both residential and commercial settings.
    • The natural antibacterial properties of lime plaster contribute to a healthier living environment.
    • Lime plaster's eco-friendly characteristics align with sustainable building practices and green construction standards.
    • The versatility of lime plaster makes it suitable for a wide range of applications, from walls to ceilings and decorative elements.
    • Lime plaster's insulating properties help maintain a comfortable indoor temperature year-round.
    • Proper application techniques ensure the structural integrity and longevity of lime plaster installations.
    • Lime plaster's compatibility with historical restoration projects preserves the authenticity and character of heritage buildings.
    • Lime plaster's natural ingredients make it a safe and non-toxic choice for interior finishes.
    • The aesthetic appeal of lime plaster enhances the overall ambiance of interior spaces.
    • Lime plaster's ability to absorb and release moisture contributes to a balanced humidity level indoors.
    • Lime plaster's natural ageing process adds patina and character to interior surfaces over time.
    • The durability and timeless elegance of lime plaster make it a worthwhile investment for any construction project.
    Scroll to Top